Getting to Washington will take planning

By Lindsay Carroll

‘ ‘ ‘ Washington might be a little bit chaotic next week. Or a lot. ‘ ‘ ‘ In addition to… ‘ ‘ ‘ Washington might be a little bit chaotic next week. Or a lot. ‘ ‘ ‘ In addition to 240,000 ticketed guests attending the presidential inauguration, the city has opened the lawn of the National Mall to the general public and expects somewhere between 1 and 2 million people to attend. Plus, hundreds of thousands of other people will be waiting to watch the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue. ‘ ‘ ‘ With a historic inauguration for President-elect Barack Obama in only five days, the city is bracing itself for millions of visitors to the Capitol, and Pitt students who plan on going to the inauguration should prepare a plan. ‘ ‘ ‘ The city expects ‘crush-level’ crowds on its subway and bus system, the Metro, even though it will operate on a rush-hour schedule all day on Monday and Tuesday, according to a news release from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Be prepared to wait for space on a train for long periods of time, during which you will have to stand in close proximity to several thousand people,’ the release said. ‘ ‘ ‘ If students are planning on using the Metro public transportation in Washington, they should buy Metrorail all-day farecards in advance, which are being sold online or at sales offices on inauguration day for $10 and will have a special Obama design. It’s too late for tickets bought online to have guaranteed delivery by Friday. ‘ ‘ ‘ If you arrive in Washington before inauguration day, Metrorail sells the passes for $7.80 in advance at its sales offices and vending machines. Students may also buy a $5 one-day inauguration bus pass or pay the regular $1.35 bus fare. ‘ ‘ ‘ Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority spokesperson Steven Taubenkibel was hesitant to comment on crowd estimates. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We have heard the estimates ‘- no one really has a grip of them,’ said Taubenkibel. ‘The whole region is bracing for a major influx of riders on our metro system.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ The Metrorail will stay open from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Monday and from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesday. The normal schedules will change to an all-day rush-hour schedule, and some stations will be designated as entry-only or exit-only. ‘ ‘ ‘ On its Web site, Metro encourages subway riders to use the Union Station, Federal Center SW, Capitol South, Eastern Market, Metro Center, L’Enfant Plaza and Judiciary Square stops, among others. The Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter and Smithsonian Metrorail stations will be closed inauguration day until after the parade, around 6:30 p.m. ‘ ‘ ‘ The Metrobus will operate on a modified Saturday schedule and will stay open from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. on inauguration day, but with many road closings, these routes could take significantly longer than normal. There will be 23 special routes to carry people to the National Mall and extra routes to transport visitors from the Washington airports this weekend. ‘ ‘ ‘ Complete lists of schedule changes and maps for the subway and bus systems are available on the Metro Web site at The site has an inauguration page, where people can sign up for e-mail alerts about transit information. ‘ ‘ ‘ Driving to Washington will not be any easier than using public transportation. ‘ ‘ ‘ District of Columbia Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle said that the most important recommendation is to find parking at one of the Metro stations, which will open their lots for inauguration visitors for $4. ‘ ‘ ‘ According to the Metro Web site, people can’t park in the lot from 11 p.m. on Monday to 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, when the lots will reopen. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to drive into the District and find parking,’ said Lisle. ‘ ‘ ‘ Many roads and bridges will close on inauguration day. Web sites like allow people going to inauguration to see where they can drive. ‘ ‘ ‘ Lisle recommended stations like the Shady Grove park-in-ride in Rockville, Md., on Interstate 270, which is on the way to Washington for Pitt students. He suggested visiting the Maryland Web site,, for inauguration traffic information. ‘ ‘ ‘ Pitt student Harrison Kinzler said he plans to drive to Washington with six people and stay at his uncle’s house in Maryland or someplace in Washington. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘We’re lucky enough to be able to secure a parking spot somewhat close to the city, about a 5-mile walk,’ said Kinzler in an e-mail. ‘We are all prepared for both the weather and influx of people excited to see the inauguration.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Kate Kelley, an inaugural volunteer and Washington resident, said drivers should leave as early as possible, check road closure updates online before leaving and listen to traffic reports on the radio while driving. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘It’s been hard to get a good read on how best to get into the city,’ she said. ‘People have stopped giving numbers [of crowd estimates]. First they said 4 million, and then they said 2 million.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Kelley said the Maryland governor issued a statement asking residents to stay off the main beltways coming into Washington to ease congestion for inauguration visitors. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘My hope is that the crowds won’t be as bad as expected,’ Kelley added. ‘ ‘ ‘ She said some people may have heard about massive crowds and will stay away from the city. ‘ ‘ ‘ Students should still have a plan of where they will park and how they will get to the inaugural events from their parking spot, she said. If train tickets are still available, she suggested that students take the train rather than drive. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Come as early as possible, be patient and stay in good spirits,’ said Kelley. ‘ ‘ ‘ Students who are ready to travel with a plan ‘mdash; and several backups ‘mdash; can join Facebook groups such as ‘Inauguration 2009 in D.C. ‘mdash; Where to go! What to do!’ to network with other students about inauguration events and transportation.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘